What is a scandal bag?
A scandal bag is a simple thing; it’s a plastic bag, much like the bags you would pick up at a grocery store in America. It gets the “scandal” part of its name because the bag is black, which helps ensure some privacy. Since you can’t see what’s in the bag from the outside, people never know what you might be carrying inside, and so, it became known as the scandal bag.
Where can you get them?
Like in America, you can find these plastic bags just about everywhere. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and every shop or store I’ve ever been to will give you one with which to carry out your goods. In America, think of how easy it is to obtain a plastic shopping bag and maintain a growing collection of them; it’s the same thing here.
Why are they important?
Scandal bags are inexpensive (some stores will charge you $5J for one, which is about 5¢ in American currency) and they are easy to use. Scandal bags are also great because there about 100 different ways you can use them. In Jamaica, with limited resources, limited transportation and limited funds, Jamaicans and PCVs alike have come up with some pretty creative ways to use this bag.
How do you use them?
This weekend, I polled volunteers on the island to help me compile a list of non-traditional ways they like to use their scandal bags. Below, I’ve included some of the most creative answers. Though we could only come up with 33 different uses, I’m sure there are plenty more we just haven’t thought of yet.
Arts & Crafts
1. Stuffing for amigurumi
2. Crochet thread/yarn
3. String for beading
4. Make a kite
5. Fill with sand for a bean bag
7. Makeshift rope
8. Ribbon for presents
9. Keep your shoes dry when walking in the rain
10. Rain hat
11. Back flap for catching dirt while riding your bicycle after the rain
12. Keep your laptop or books dry
13. Plug a leak/sink
14. Rubber gloves
15. Shower cap
16. For wet bathing suits and towels
17. Attach it to your belt loop while climbing a tree to collect ackee, mango, berries, or coffee beans
18. Lunch bag
19. Cover for steaming rice
20. Store food to keep ants away
21. Does your screw-top bottle or jar leak? Use a scandal bag under the lid to prevent this.
22. Easy-to-clean-up nonstick surface for rolling out dough (for the bakers!)
23. Make-it-yourself colander for pasta
24. The ever popular, trash bag
25. Litter box liner
26. Pre-soak your whites before doing your laundry
On The Go
27. Carry a change of clothes
28. Protect bottles or creams that might explode while travelling
29. Mobile bathroom
30. Seedling bag for planting
31. Other storage purposes
32. Fire kindling (in desperate circumstances only, like this one)